Mountains are big. If you want to prove something to yourself, or someone else, climb a mountain. But the mountain probably won’t be impressed. If you want to impress a mountain, you have to be a bit more creative. You would have to beat the mountain at its own game. How long can you sit still? If you can sit absolutely still for 5 minutes, you might see some of the birds that live on the side of the mountain. If you can sit still for 30 minutes, you might see some of the squirrels or voles or little rodents that live on the side of the mountain.

If you can sit still, totally and perfectly still, for a day or two, the deer might start walking by, but they would still keep their distance. If you can sit perfectly, absolutely still for a week, the birds might start landing on your shoulders, or on your outstretched arms, the way they do on tree branches. Can you hold your arms outstretched for a week or more? If you could sit perfectly still for a month, the deer would browse on grass right up to your knees, but if you so much as blinked and they caught you, they wouldn’t ever fall for it again. If you could sit still for 6 months, and you’ve picked a good spot for your test of endurance, you might see bobcats, cougars, coyotes, wolves, those big predators walking by, in pursuit of those rabbits and deer grazing near your sitting spot. If you could sit still for a year, a bobcat looking for some shade in the heat of the day might curl up next to you as if you were a convenient stump in the shade of which she would take a nap. If you could sit still for 10 years, moss would grow in your hair, a seed from a big-leaf maple tree might land in the moss, and in the accumulated dirt might germinate, the roots winding their way down your back and around your outstretched arms, hoping to find solid ground before you rot away. If you could sit still for 100 years, you would be surrounded by the arching roots of that big-leaf maple tree, looking out at that grass upon which the deer graze oblivious to your presence. The raccoons would use your outstretched arms as steps on a ladder on their way to their homes up in the tree. You would only see the ground birds, the wren keeping house in the nearby shrubs. They might use your outstretched arms as lookout posts, but you wouldn’t see them as much as you did in the beginning. The woodrats would make their nest against your back under the arches of the big-leaf maple tree, and you might be thankful for the lumbar support after all this time.

If you could sit still for 500 years, after the big-leaf maple has seeded itself all around you, so that the landscape has completely changed; so that now you only see the deer as they walk past, in search of sunnier places where the grass still grows; then, maybe, the mountain might begin to notice your presence and wonder what this young vagabond is doing sitting around on its flank all the time. In another 500 years, you might have made enough of an impression to be allowed to introduce yourself. But then again, maybe not. It depends on the mountain. Some are more gregarious than others.

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